Life-affirming concept album from the hip-hopper.
David Aaron 2009
With the world’s current economic and political climate as it stands – there couldn’t be a better time for Boston MC Mr Lif to slamdunk this brazen dose of social commentary into the political net.
If it's socially conscious lyrics, organic beats and raw production that you're after, then look no further. Throughout, the 32 year-old rhymes shamelessly about eclectic topics such as the global economic collapse; police brutality, America's 'Housing Crisis' and hope.
''We're sitting on billions of dollars/But what about us?/Promises, Favours/They use 'em just to dominate us'' goes the lyrics on the poignant What About Us? Cleverly sampling Biggie's Gimme The Loot – Lif is a talented street troubadour and perhaps sums up the world's thoughts towards the economic bailout - in three simple, yet defining, words.
Gang Starr and The Roots affiliate, Bahamadia, guests on Breathe – a track that focuses on daily stresses; its deep, dirty double basslines being the backbone that orchestrates (alongside its lyrics) a sense of paranoia and fear.
Police Brutality (skit) is straight outta Ice Cube territory and delicately states that racism will still infiltrate today's America, despite its new government. The juxtaposed Hatred narrates self hatred in the Black community: its operatic backdrop and soulless beats are a digression from the album's genetic, jazzy drum lines and is a painful dip in quality.
Thankfully, I Heard It Today gets things back on track: a triumphant electro, jazz/funk offering in the vein of Common's recent efforts; its dialogue fighting the corner of those 'burnt' by America's housing crisis.
Sun and Dawn serve as a reminder that there is light and hope during these dark times. The latter doen't quite have the desired effect, but it's a powerful vision, all the same.
Mr Lif has embraced the concept album powerfully, using it as a tool to address issues effecting many people all over the world. Will it be heard by enough of us to make a change? Probably not. But it's comforting to know there are still hip hop acts out there trying to give a voice to the voiceless.